Goldman Sachs can’t take a joke

How Obama's mean standup comedy routine hurt the feelings of Wall Street's premier investment bank

Topics: Hank Paulson, Dodd-Frank, 2012 Elections, Bank Reform, Goldman Sachs, Business, Barack Obama, Robert Rubin, ,

Goldman Sachs can't take a jokeLloyd Blankfein (Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed)

Money can’t buy you a thick skin. That’s the takeaway from a Wall Street Journal article published today that reports how Goldman Sachs turned against Obama.

The last straw for many came two weeks later. At the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, the president drew laughs at their expense. “All of the jokes here tonight are brought to you by our friends at Goldman Sachs,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the SEC allegations. “So you don’t have to worry — they make money whether you laugh or not.”

Goldman Sachs ought to have been pleased at Obama’s crack — it’s more of an advertisement for their services than an insult. The mystique, and profitability, of Goldman Sachs is built on the company’s ability to make money in any market. Goldman was the first big investment bank on Wall Street to figure out which way the subprime wind was blowing, and it got out of its most dangerous positions (often by dumping toxic waste on its own clients) well before its competitors. Getting called out by name by the president should be taken as a sign of respect!

But Goldman’s pique at the White House was not limited to merely a bad sense of humor. The Wall Street Journal also reports that Goldman was angry that it wasn’t more involved with cleaning up the mess that Wall Street created.

Resentments against the White House began, said senior Goldman executives, because the firm thought it would be consulted when the Obama administration began crafting regulations in response to the financial crisis. They weren’t. Instead, they were surprised by a measure dubbed the Volcker rule, which would damage one of Goldman’s lucrative businesses.



You Might Also Like

They weren’t” may be one of the funniest (if unintentionally so) lines the Journal has ever printed. One former Goldman Sachs CEO, Robert Rubin, was instrumental in pushing through laws that exempted Wall Street from the kind of regulatory oversight that might have helped prevent the crash. Another, Hank Paulson, led a lobbying effort in 2004 that resulted in a rule change that allowed Goldman and its colleagues the freedom to make bigger bets on derivative trades than ever before. Goldman’s advice has been definitively proven to be disastrous for the country. Since when do we consult bank robbers on how to write laws against theft?

Never mind the jokes — Goldman has done just fine under Obama. But it wants to do better, and that’s what the stream of campaign contributions headed Romney’s way is all about. Goldman Sachs will make more money under a president who will pass no law without making sure it passes Wall Street’s smell test.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    jkrebs04, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 1

    Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada

    akvarog, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 2

    Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

    iMAGICations, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 3

    Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, U.S.

    jhgraphicsusa, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 4

    Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

    Robert R., DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 5

    Colosseum, Rome, Italy

    Anythingoes, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 6

    Taj Mahal, Agra, India

    Sergio Coelho, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 7

    Siena Cathedral, Siena, Italy

    Anythingoes, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 8

    Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    iMAGICations,DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 9

    Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

    iMAGICations, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 10

    Lost City of Petra, Jordan

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>